What to look for in an ex racer?

Bens_Mum

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A friend has asked me to go and look at a horse with her this weekend. I suspect to try to take my mind off things with my boy..

It's a TB gelding a month out of racing. Apparently it's very calm, good to do and is good in traffic. I have seen the videos and it looks nice enough obviously hasn't got the best way of going at the moment!

I know nothing about them at all. It's ten and apparently retired sound although I'm not sure why they retired it.? I guess it's age?

Does this sound to good to be true? I would have thought it's likely to be very highly strung but she says not? She's been told it's very willing and sensible I just can't imagine how but maybe I'm wrong. Any thoughts?

How easy are they to re-train? It's apparently been in a school but by the looks of it done very little
 

Whoopit

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Treat it like any other horse of course. Look for the exact same things you would in any other horse and school it like you would any other mildly uneducated horse.

It is after all just a horse.

The hilarity of nutcase ex racehorses - I'd bloody love one but I'm yet to come across one!
 

Bens_Mum

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I just thought they needed a bit of coming down this has only been finished a month? It really does seem lovely I just had this preconceived idea they were very highly strung at least straight out of racing. Clearly I was wrong but glad I asked.
 

paddi22

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they all have different temperaments i suppose.

Main thing is what does she want it for?

I made a mistake with mine in that i got a flat racer and wanted to event it. It loose jumped great but never was brave xc at all. It also didn't have an instinctive understanding of what its feet were doing or how to get itself out of trouble over tricky xc, so was never going to be an eventer, but loved dressage.

I would love to get an exracer again, but after retiring one with kissing spine and sacroiliac, i'd not get another without a back xray. I know they aren't going to predict if you' ever have trouble, but i could have saved a lot of heart ache and tears if i'd gotten one done at the start.

On an aside, a horse who is willing and calm when in a hard work, a routine and ridden by very confident calm jockeys can still easily turn into a confused tricky horse unless the new owner is confident.
 

be positive

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Plenty are calm, good to do, good in traffic etc as they have to be to a certain extent, a horse that does not relax at home will be tricky to train and get even more buzzy on the racecourse which tends to make for a shorter career, most are lovely in the stable again the staff have to groom them, they need clipping, shoeing and veterinary care, they may be a bit sharp or ticklish but know their manners if they are still racing at 10.
Being highly strung is not a given so if they say he is not then believe it but he will not be the average plod, he may not be used to going out alone or leading the string so that needs to be considered, schooling will take time and it depends what the person wants at the end, I have one here that retired 2 years ago, he spent last summer doing very little other than hacking and basic schooling, in the autumn he did a few hunter trials and over the winter some SJ, he is just about to do his first ODE aged 12. He retired sound but had done a leg plus a few other issues while in training, he is standing up to the work well, is barefoot and has been for all his retraining, he has a lovely nature, he was a bit grumpy and cheeky when race fit but since letting down is very sweet and lets his owners little sisters lead him to the field and sometimes sit on bareback for a wander about.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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The age wouldn't bother me. Jumpers go on longer and it is probably the case that he finished the winter season without enough inspiring results to warrant bringing him back in for another season so retirement from racing is the obvious option. Not all racehorses retire with injuries. Quite a few are lovely, placid horses to deal with. The majority are great in traffic, to box shoe and clip because it is so common and regular for them.

Go with your eyes open.

Do you know his racing name out of interest?
 

Bens_Mum

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Its just as you said very average results last season just looked it up.

She basically wants a hack and a bit of dressage general rc stuff she has loads of support at the yard and on paper it sounds perfect. Videos look very sane in a big open field calm on its own. She's a competent rider just not looking for something that's going to be dangerous or overly sharp ie bucking and rearing. Schooling and time isn't an issue.

Thanks for the input everyone it sounds like it could be genuine. Me being overly cynical
 

Elf On A Shelf

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Most racers don't buck or rear. We have plenty in the yard that could stand by themselves at the top of the hill in the fields and watch the others galloping round the fields - probably thinking 'Score! Easy days work for me!' lol!

They aren't all psychotic lunatics ;)
 

Bens_Mum

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Really hope not as it looks perfect and the lady who owns it seems genuine.

Anyone have any idea what something like this would be worth? They are asking £1350?
 

matt_m

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The asking price is steep for what it is. They can make lovely horses and often have wonderful ground manners. Obviously you need to be patient and willing to put the work in to retrain, as they clearly need to relearn pretty much everything ridden wise, from mounting (usually) to contact and so on.

I personally like to go for something younger out of racing than 10 as I do find they are easier to retrain younger and less stuck in their ways, but many have had success with older horses. Would strongly recommend a vetting.

Remember a horse fresh out of racing like that is going to be racing fit which is not what you want - I would recommend a good few months off before doing anything at least for any horse out of racing to stabilise.
 
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Elf On A Shelf

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A horse is only worth as much as you are willing to pay. Each trainer ass for different amounts and most depends on the horses ability to be rehomed. For that price they are clearly wanting a good home where he wont be passed from pillar to post. The boss has one for sale at the moment for £3300 - 4yo with basic established flat work, pops a pole upto about a meter nicely, is good to do in all ways but was EPICALLY useless on the track. Just as a comparison.
 

Bens_Mum

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Will pass that on. Money wise what do you think? I thought it was a bit steep too horses seem to be for nothing at the moment
 

Bens_Mum

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A horse is only worth as much as you are willing to pay. Each trainer ass for different amounts and most depends on the horses ability to be rehomed. For that price they are clearly wanting a good home where he wont be passed from pillar to post. The boss has one for sale at the moment for £3300 - 4yo with basic established flat work, pops a pole upto about a meter nicely, is good to do in all ways but was EPICALLY useless on the track. Just as a comparison.
That is helpful thank you.
 
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Really hope not as it looks perfect and the lady who owns it seems genuine.

Anyone have any idea what something like this would be worth? They are asking £1350?
Thats a lot - I paid £650 for my last ex-racer and that was deemed expensive! He was a complete nutjob mind you, but I only found that out with time and I genuinely feel that the seller (on behalf of the owner) had no idea.

I would look at soundness above all else, and what sort of condition the horse is in - mine was in very poor condition when I got him and his nuttiness increased with his fitness....
 

Elf On A Shelf

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The asking price is steep for what it is. They can make lovely horses and often have wonderful ground manners. Obviously you need to be patient and willing to put the work in to retrain, as they clearly need to relearn pretty much everything ridden wise, from mounting (usually) to contact and so on.

I personally like to go for something younger out of racing than 10 as I do find they are easier to retrain younger and less stuck in their ways, but many have had success with older horses. Would strongly recommend a vetting.
Pft! I took home an 11yo and he was out showing within 4 months. He had raced since he was 3. Barbers Shop - won everything astride and side saddle finished racing at 10yo. Denman and Big Bucks retired at 10/11yo and are going very well in their new careers. Bobsworth, Sizing Europe, Monet's Garden etc all doing well in dressage/showing and retired at 10/11/12 yo. Age isn't a factor when retraining so long as they are mentally willing.
 

matt_m

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Price is indeed what you are willing to pay, but I have never paid more than £800 for a horse straight out of racing and I've had some crackers - and these are horses no older than 7 with fabulous thoroughbred breeding.

If she is going to see it then the price must seem reasonable to her, and that is all that matters, so don't let it put you/her off. I am just going from my own experience and the fact that the horse market is not great at the moment, plus the fact that ex racers are not few and far between.
 

GirlFriday

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As with nearly any horse an ex racer is going to cost many, many times more to keep than to buy. So, budget-wise, it might make more sense for you friend to compare (purchase price + any addional costs of training etc) vs (purchase price of something a little further on).

If she is set on something recently ott then it probably isn't going to cost much more than a few months livery whatever she picks :)
 
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wkiwi

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I have had numerous horses off the track, as well as ridden horses in training, and can categorically say that the majority have been well-mannered. One i sold on as a beginners horse as it was very quiet with all riders and another I sold to someone who didn't ride that well for a confidence builder (I couldn't get him into a fast gallop even when he was full of oats and fit as a fiddle). People can learn to ride on thoroughbreds.
Of course, as others say, temperaments vary and i have also had ones that i would only sell on to a professional rider. On the whole though, if they are sensible in racing then they are sensible in competition (with a bit of retraining).

I don't recommend turning out before starting their change of career - they seem to adapt much quicker if they just stay in regular work (even though this will be of a lower amount than in racing). It also helps to build up a partnership quicker, and keep the legs and muscles toned so you don't have to start again from scratch because it has got unfit. I would however give the horse a few days to settle in to a new environment.

As others say, treat it like any other horse purchase - if it is what they want then ignore the breed.
 

Bens_Mum

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The other option is a 3/4 tb X warm blood nice temperament but previously ruined by someone. Only starting to be happy in a contact and spooky. Both need a lot of work I guess it will be down to which she prefers.
For me although the tb is more of a project it's easier to start over than to fix something? If it's attitude is as good as we are told I think it's the more sensible horse.
Saw the tb X this morning and it moves nicely but is incredibly tense and quite introverted it's been pulled around and strapped down till it scared the lady. Don't think it's anything bad just jumps around a bit. It's had a few weeks professional schooling already but it's trying to run through the bridle. Not dangerous but not a short term problem. It's nice to do and handle but it's quite introverted and doesn't seem to want to interact with you if that makes sense.
Any thoughts?
 

be positive

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I suppose it depends what the buyer is looking for, the wb could have a physical issue that has not yet been found or possibly not even looked into, reschooling one to a new job is usually far easier than trying to turn around something that has been messed up, the right one is the one that makes you want to take it home, it may be that neither of these is the right horse and they need to look at some more.
 

wkiwi

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The other option is a 3/4 tb X warm blood nice temperament but previously ruined by someone. Only starting to be happy in a contact and spooky. Both need a lot of work I guess it will be down to which she prefers.
For me although the tb is more of a project it's easier to start over than to fix something? If it's attitude is as good as we are told I think it's the more sensible horse.
Saw the tb X this morning and it moves nicely but is incredibly tense and quite introverted it's been pulled around and strapped down till it scared the lady. Don't think it's anything bad just jumps around a bit. It's had a few weeks professional schooling already but it's trying to run through the bridle. Not dangerous but not a short term problem. It's nice to do and handle but it's quite introverted and doesn't seem to want to interact with you if that makes sense.
Any thoughts?
All horses are different, but I have just spent 6 months re-schooling one with similar breeding (TB/warmblood) that had had its head tied down by someone and was very tense to the point of sometimes panicking. It was not at all malicious but just very worried about its own balance and was definitely a professional ride; ruined horses will often also revert if the memories are triggered later in life. On the other hand, I have had TBs from the track that have been competing eventing at 90cm plus within 12 weeks.
If giving advice, i would advise them to go for the one she most enjoys riding, so long as they are confident they can manage the issues - yes they will both need re-training, but people tend to be more successful with something that has tugged their heart strings (so long as they can manage it and don't get scared).

Re the being introverted - personally I wouldn't worry about that at all so long as the horse interacts normally with other horses (e.g. in the field). It is common for horses that have bad experiences with humans to be distant with them, but this normally changes completely once they are in a good home and they realise they can trust again. Some of them develop fantastic personalities!
Good luck with the decision and I hope you post again to say the outcome.
 

Bens_Mum

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All horses are different, but I have just spent 6 months re-schooling one with similar breeding (TB/warmblood) that had had its head tied down by someone and was very tense to the point of sometimes panicking. It was not at all malicious but just very worried about its own balance and was definitely a professional ride; ruined horses will often also revert if the memories are triggered later in life. On the other hand, I have had TBs from the track that have been competing eventing at 90cm plus within 12 weeks.
If giving advice, i would advise them to go for the one she most enjoys riding, so long as they are confident they can manage the issues - yes they will both need re-training, but people tend to be more successful with something that has tugged their heart strings (so long as they can manage it and don't get scared).

Re the being introverted - personally I wouldn't worry about that at all so long as the horse interacts normally with other horses (e.g. in the field). It is common for horses that have bad experiences with humans to be distant with them, but this normally changes completely once they are in a good home and they realise they can trust again. Some of them develop fantastic personalities!
Good luck with the decision and I hope you post again to say the outcome.
I raised the panic point with the woman that was showing it. You could see when it didn't like it it's reaction was to go up. Ok it was a bunny hop but it was up and she said when it came a slight movement in the saddle or a leg not quite still and it wasn't happy but it's much better settled now. I'm not sure it's all that improved as no one else has ridden it yet... She's going back to ride it next week. I'm no amazing rider and I would have got on it but you would want to be very quiet I don't think it's dangerous but if you were nervous and tried to hold on to it I'm not sure what it would do although I'm assured nothing...? When she got off its dope on a rope and was once upon a time a smart horse I saw it before it's just whether or not at 12 it's worth the hassle. 12 months ago it was really flashy. It's on individual turnout apparently the owner had it living alone?
 

wkiwi

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she said when it came a slight movement in the saddle or a leg not quite still and it wasn't happy but it's much better settled now.
I'm not sure it's all that improved as no one else has ridden it yet...
Sounds like it is very sensitive to the aids, which is quite common for that sort of breeding. They are no problem if you don't confuse them. The thing to do would be to go back more than once and try the horse several days in a row. I re-schooled one mare that hadn't been ridden for at least a year (had previously done advanced dressage before being sold to someone that didn't ride it) and it is good as gold for a rider with accurate aids but it didn't suit the person it was bought for (good as gold the first day then not so good day 2 then rearing by day 3). Yet she is fine also with a much less experienced rider that just sits quietly and doesn't hang onto her mouth. It all depends on the partnership i think!
I don't think that it is fair for the rider to say it wouldn't do anythign if a nervous rider held onto its mouth, as until someone does it no one knows how the horse will behave and you did say that it had scared its owner (perhaps find out more about what it did?). Horses have amazing memories and similar circumstances can trigger memories from years before (good or bad), and the memories are not erased - it is just a matter of training different patterns of behaviour but these do take time to become established with different riders and in different places/circumstances.
However, this also means that if it was going really well when younger then you can tap into these memories and turn it back into the smart horse it was before, particularly as it only seems to have had bad experiences over the last year. I would also talk to whoever used to ride it (when it was going well) and find out how straightforward it was or not. just a suggestion. :)
 

Bens_Mum

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Thank you yes I will do some more digging. A friend schooled it when the previous owner was on holiday and said it was perfect and it was sold for a lot of money. The woman who owns it is totally over horsed and very nervous she put it in a gag and tied it down which brings us to where we are now.

Obviously my friend is looking for a project but not a bonkers one. Sharp is fine but nothing that's liable to panic or needs a professional rider. It's improving under the girl whose schooling it now but I think it's always going to be quirky. The owner still seems to think it's quite valuable and for me it's really not but happily not my decision.
 

wkiwi

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It might just sigh with relief getting into a nice home again!
The over-horsed and nervous sounds so familiar; I just wish that people would get help at that stage and not over-bit the horse and tie it down. So sad, as the horse cannot solve any problems, only the rider can but they don't know how to.
At the stage the horse is at now, I doubt the owner would find it easy to sell as it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. As a project horse i would expect it to be a few thousand max, regardless of past history and breeding, but usually the owner wants to recoup their money plus the cost of the professional training; this just tends to prolong the whole process unfortunately! (Sorry to rabbit on, but it is one of my pet hates as the horses end up so stressed and unhappy, and some get put down).
If its any help, the one I have just been reschooling has done a complete turn around and is out competing both indoors and outdoors up to 70% in dressage and very sensibly (though yes, still has the odd quirk at this stage). She was certainly worth the effort, and is doing some stunning work, but we did pay a bargain price for her.
 

Bens_Mum

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It might just sigh with relief getting into a nice home again!
The over-horsed and nervous sounds so familiar; I just wish that people would get help at that stage and not over-bit the horse and tie it down. So sad, as the horse cannot solve any problems, only the rider can but they don't know how to.
At the stage the horse is at now, I doubt the owner would find it easy to sell as it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. As a project horse i would expect it to be a few thousand max, regardless of past history and breeding, but usually the owner wants to recoup their money plus the cost of the professional training; this just tends to prolong the whole process unfortunately! (Sorry to rabbit on, but it is one of my pet hates as the horses end up so stressed and unhappy, and some get put down).
If its any help, the one I have just been reschooling has done a complete turn around and is out competing both indoors and outdoors up to 70% in dressage and very sensibly (though yes, still has the odd quirk at this stage). She was certainly worth the effort, and is doing some stunning work, but we did pay a bargain price for her.
Very helpful and you are totally correct about her thought process with the price! There is another person interested in it which would quite likely be another case of disaster and I think she's getting greedy. Will see what it rides like when she tries it. It's a shaddow of a horse it's quite sad really but it's not good enough to be spending too much on at all. I can't imagine it would suit many it's very attractive but that would be how it got in the mess initially!
 

Goldenstar

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It's should not be a lot of money.
I have not even lost the fight to keep my lovely horse going yet ( another story ) and I have already been offered two smart young TB's from different sources and they both would be free or a token sale .
I love TB's and if I end up a horse down I will probably replace him with TB .
However you need a good vetting so you know and understand what your dealing with .
You need to get the vet look in it's mouth as some have awful teeth and that can cost a fortune to manage .
You need to factor in you may have to treat ulcers .
And take a long hard look at the horses feet if they are poor you really should look for another .
 
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